A Brave New World
An amazing Brazilian couple we’ve recently made friends with came over to our house last night for dinner. Monday evening isn’t exactly the usual time of the week for having friends over but it suited our guests who have a very hectic working schedule that involves them both regularly working into the early hours of the morning – via pretty unsociable patterns – and Monday was a day off. Having only previously met and talked briefly at church, we were about two minutes into conversation over dinner when it dawned on me that this beautiful couple sitting opposite us were mighty in faith!
About a year ago they had made the decision to radically relocate their lives, along with their two children, from Brazil to Scotland simply because God had asked them to. Now we were enjoying dinner together as they both shared stories about the goodness and the power of God in their lives. With all of the many challenges you can imagine in moving from one country to another (employment, schooling, food, weather, culture, language, friends etc etc), they are now prayerfully waiting on the Father to show them how He wants to use them in this brave new world.
Faith is a Muscle
In the natural world of exercise and health, when you regularly participate in resistance training your muscles get bigger (hypertrophy); when you don’t get involved in said resistance training your muscles waste and become weak and small (atrophy).
I had worked in the world of fitness and health for more than ten years so when my new friend used this phrase (faith is a muscle) to explain his understanding of the key difference between the Brazilian and UK churches, it struck me powerfully. But mainly it registered forcefully with me because it was a phrase that had come out of the mouth of a believer who was truly living by faith in front of my very eyes!
It was also because I am someone who does regularly lift weights to keep in good physical condition that this metaphor had a profound impact on me: it’s all very well training and looking after your physical muscles but if you’re not exercising your muscle of faith you’re weak on the inside. I hate the idea of being weak and flabby in the physical so how much more horrible is the thought of being a weak and flabby spiritual man of faith?
Primed by the miraculous, awe-inspiring stories of our friends, I wanted to start exercising faith there and then!
Thinking about this simple analogy for the spiritual life of faith, how healthy is your faith, would you say?
Chat to someone about it.
Do you feel like you exercise your faith regularly or perhaps you feel a little out of shape?
People don’t exercise in the natural for lots of reasons many of which are often very valid but perhaps God is asking you to talk to Him about starting to exercise your faith in a new way?
What does the Bible say?
“…faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Why not drop us a line or leave a comment to continue the conversation?
We were flicking through movie rental options on TV the other night when we stumbled across Kevin Reynolds’ 2016 film Risen – a film about the resurrection of Christ as seen through the eyes of a Roman Military Tribune, Clavius ((Joseph Fiennes).
Inititially I thought the film was going to be lame but was surprised by the way the film grew on me, particualrly when Jesus featured, as played by Cliff Curtis – I’d thoroughly recommend renting/buying the film!
Barging into the Upper Room
There is one particular aspect of the film that continues to speak to me powerfully:
As the Bible says, when Jesus rose from the grave, after Mary Magdalene had recognised Him by the grave-side, Jesus appeared to His disciples. Walls, Roman Soldiers, constanty conspiring Pharisees and the frightened bewilderment of His people weren’t a problem – Jesus met with his friends to prove his resurrection glory and to encourage His grieving mates. (more…)
Imagine being woken up tomorrow morning by voices in your head, or voices that you thought were in your head. Imagine groggily coming round, sick in your stomach, disoriented by fear because of the sonic traffic that the voices in your head were creating: unfamiliar tones, unrecognisable expressions – a mystifying medley of unearthly voice. Imagine waking tomorrow morning to experience something akin to a dream and yet that was not a dream; something understandable and yet utterly bewildering.
You would be afraid. (more…)
We all have back stories – recorded and unfolding narratives of the span of our life forensically written by the sum of our experiences: great highs, often greater lows, innumerable memories all woven together in the finest detail to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art, hanging as a priceless tapestry in the inner gallery of our heart.
We don’t always want the public to view our own piece hanging there and we don’t honour the pieces that we see of others every day.
Do we walk through these galleries we’re in every day paying cursory glances at the pieces on display? Or could we stop to really look at what we see?
A biblical perspective for back stories is a faith-primed hope of a better future – all because of Jesus: He promises to never leave us alone and in the fullness of time to make all things new.
The difficulty with back stories is that we even struggle to know and understand our own let alone those of others – they require attention, thought and counsel. But understanding and attending to our own will help with our understanding of others.
The thing is – because everyone has come from somewhere, is currently somewhere processing the past and dreaming of a future; and because they are in fact headed somewhere into an unknown place, we must treat each other with the love that John talks about in 1 John. (I won’t quote chapter and verse but how about picking up your Bible, reading 1 John and noting the correlation between our love for Christ and our love for each other?).
See what I mean?
My prayer for myself and for you is that we would draw the same boundary lines as Jesus draws: grace upon grace upon grace upon grace upon grace [until it becomes annoying, ‘unfair’, even ridiculous] upon grace upon grace. You’ll need an eraser for sure; so will I:
We all know the feeling of being found outside of the boundary lines that others have drawn for us, (even in ink), essentially leaving us in relational exile where grace has run dry; but in the power of the Holy Spirit of God we can all be prayerful students of back story masterpieces and come to truly understand that each piece really does paint a million words.